Recently I was hanging out with two friends and their (almost) three-year-old when she started pointing at the back of my leg and saying it was dirty. I wasn’t totally sure what she was talking about until he told me that she was talking about the tattoo of my son’s baby footprints that I have on the back of my calf — she thought it was something on my leg, and didn’t make the tattoo connection.
THEN Offbeat Home‘s Cat independently sent me a link to a book explaining tattoos to kids, which is something I’ve never thought of. My husband and I both have tattoos, and our son is just used to them. He likes fake tattoos (he gives them to himself and us with markers, and he also likes the rub-on kind), and is amused by our body decoration, but doesn’t really seem to care either way. I’m sure at some point he’ll ask why some people have tattoos, piercings, and so on, and others don’t, so it’s cool to know these books exist.
Mommy Has a Tattoo is about a boy named James. He’s really freaked out by his tattoo-adorned neighbor… until he finds out that his mom has tattoos, too. SAY WHAT! The book is a great way to remove the stigma that’s (still!) associated with tattoos and body modification in general. After all, if mom has one… it can’t be so scary, right?
Phil also created the Tattoo Coloring Book — every single page is based on real tattoos. This is great on many levels — it encourages creativity (I’m just waiting to hear “Wait, I could get a tattoo of a THAT?!” some day), diversity (in design), and, you know, it’s a coloring book. Coloring books are just the best.
As you can most likely glean from the title, Baby’s First Tattoo is a memory book for “modern parents.” The description of the book claims it’s for parents with a home that “looks like it was decorated by Pee-Wee Herman,” and states that all too often, the other “firsts” of a baby’s life (first projectile vomit, first tantrum in a crowded grocery store, etc.) are overlooked in favor of those “other” baby memory books. So while you can definitely record the firsts you want (first tooth, first step), you can also record the other firsts that you might forget. HILARITY.
General body modification
I want to take a minute to make a note: finding kids’ books that talk about body modification in general in a positive way is HARD. I wasn’t searching for anything suitable for little kids (I gave up after a few miserable searches), but was blown away by the lack of information out there for teens who might be interested in piercings. I decided to go the artistic and/or informative route, but if you know of any sources other than these, especially any that might explain piercings to kids under 12, let us know!
This book is truly a gem — photographer Chris Rainier spent seven years immersed in various cultures to get to the root of tattooing, piercing, and general body modification. I’m not sure I could say it any better than the description already does: “Ancient Marks reveals not only the haunting beauty of these often mystical forms, but also connects them to humanity’s enduring efforts to tell stories, forge identity, and create links to the divine.”
Even if your kids are younger, you could probably spend quite a bit of time together going through the photos, discussing the differences between the people featured, the types of body modification they have, and how this could be similar or different from other things that your kids may see. All the images are black-and-white, which adds a particularly dramatic touch to the presentation — you FEEL like body modification is something a little bit deeper than a lot of people give it credit for.
This book, which examines the rise of body modification that took place in the 1990s, came out in 2003 — so it may be a tiny bit dated. Author Victoria Pitts interviewed body modifiers for years — everything from scarification to flesh hanging is featured. Pitts is a sociologist, which gives the book an edge to me — I’m a huge sociology nerd. Since the book is mostly about connections between body modification and gender and sex struggles, it’s right up my, and probably many other’s, alley.
Do you know of any great resources — books or websites — for kids and teens about piercings and other body modifications? Share them in the comments!